By Mick Jensen
Matt Clough is fit and focused and aiming for a podium finish in the two day event at next week’s Kathmandu Coast To Coast race.
His race is a gruelling 243km bike, kayak and run challenge and he is likely to be the youngest in the field.
Last year the 17-year-old claimed second overall in the mountain run challenge at the Coast To Coast.
“I’m up for the bigger challenge this year. My training has been going very well and I’ll start to ease back a bit this week ahead of the race.”
Matt said 2017 had been a successful year for him and he hoped to take that good form into the race.
His stellar year included second at the ITU World Multisport Championships in Canada in August and victory in the New Zealand Xterra Championships in Rotorua in April.
“I’ve been focused specifically on the Coast To Coast since September and training around 15-20 hours a week.
“A typical training week includes three sessions of running, a couple of kayak paddle outs and two or three bike sessions,” said Matt.
Sessions sometimes combined 90 minutes of biking and 90 minutes of running one day, followed by two hours in the kayak and two hours on the bike the next.
“My favourite and probably strongest discipline is running, but my kayaking has improved quite a bit since I first jumped in the boat 18 months ago.”
He is coached by Axel Reiser from the Canterbury Triathlon Academy.
In the Coast To Coast race, Matt aims to be at the head of the pack after the opening 2.2km run.
A 55km bike leg follows, where drafting is allowed, and day one finishes with the challenging 30.5km Goat’s Pass run.
Day two starts with a 15.5km bike ride, short 1km run, and is followed by 70km paddle, 69.5km bike ride and 200m run to the finish line in Sumner.
“I’ve run the Goat’s Pass course three times now in training and kayaked the river four or five times, so I’m familiar with the course, but a lot will depend on the conditions over the two days,” said Matt Clough.
He would have some nerves before the start of the race, but not as many as his dad Kerry, who was part of his support crew alongside mum Carolyn and physio Shaun Clarke.
He said his role model was top triathlete Braden Currie, who he hoped one day to emulate by winning the Coast To Coast’s Longest Day and also the World Xterra Championships.
Matt Clough will represent New Zealand at his third successive ITU World Multisport Championships in Denmark in July, but before that he is firmly focused on a podium finish come February 10.